August 31, 2005

Venice rolls out red carpet for martial arts movie

By Clara Ferreira-Marques

VENICE (Reuters) - Hong Kong martial arts spectacular
"Seven Swords" will open the Venice Film Festival on Wednesday,
underlining the prominence organizers have given Asian cinema
this year.

The line-up at the world's oldest cinema competition was
slimmed down to just 56 films after organizers came under fire
for overloading the 2004 edition.

But directors say they have stayed faithful to the
festival's tradition of variety, with offerings that include a
retrospective to commemorate 100 years of Chinese cinema and a
tribute to Venice's legendary lover Casanova.

Some of Hollywood's biggest stars are expected to grace the
Lido's red carpet, including Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger.
George Clooney's black-and-white McCarthy-era film "Goodnight
and Good Luck" will lead the line-up of major pictures vying
for the Golden Lion with its Thursday premiere.

But the honor of stepping out first on to the pine-fringed,
beachside walkway will be granted to the flag carrier of Hong
Kong action movies, Tsui Hark, with his out-of-competition
martial arts adventure.

"Seven Swords," part of a revival of the "wuxia," or
martial chivalry genre, is an intense, action-packed tale of
betrayal and heroism Chinese-style, full of brutal
sword-fights, elaborate acrobatics and improbable weapons.

Based on a classic novel by Liang Yu-Shen, the film tells
the story of seven unlikely heroes battling to save a village
from a mercenary general in early 17th century China.

Tsui, who has spearheaded the revival of the wuxia genre,
says his film is a homage to Akira Kurosawa's 1954 classic
Seven Samurai, but not a remake.

Other top Asian offerings this year include Korean director
Park Chan-wook's much-anticipated "Sympathy for Lady
Vengeance," the third part of his gory revenge trilogy, Stanley
Kwan's "Everlasting Regret," starring pop diva Sammi Cheng and,
out of competition, Peter Ho-sun Chan's "Perhaps Love."

European offerings include the latest film from 96-year old
Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira and movies starring
France's Juliette Binoche and Russia's Nikita Mikhalkov.

Italy's own filmmakers will offer up three films in
competition, vying for the country's first top prize on home
soil since 1996.